Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, the dream was nice while lasted. Michael Bloomberg has decided not to run for president as an independent. He has figured out that he would have very little chance of winning even in a year when both parties' frontrunners are so very unpopular. There just wasn't any groundswell for Bloomberg.

So it has come to this: the State Department is worried about microaggressions.
According to a newsletter from State Department chief diversity officer John Robinson, employees who commit “microaggressions” may risk violating harassment laws in doing so.
Oh, Heavens! We can't have that! So what is the sort of nasty microaggressions that State is worried about?
In his letter, Robinson borrows Columbia professor Derald Wing Sue’s definition of “microaggressions,” which Sue defines as “everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons.”

In his book “Microaggressions In Everyday Life,” Sue claims that saying “Merry Christmas” to a Jewish person is a clear “microaggression.” The Daily Caller reached out to the State Department to clarify whether the agency also considers “Merry Christmas” a microaggression but did not hear back by press time.

Robinson did put forth a handful of example microaggressions in the letter, such as asking an Asian person “Where are you from?” He also offered his own definition of microaggressions: “insensitive questions and comments that leave you feeling a bit uneasy or slighted.”
Of course, the real definition of a microaggression is anything that the favored minority determines has been offensive. And remember, such insults can be "intentional or unintentional." So if a person says "Merry Christmas" to someone who is not Christian, I guess that there will be some reprimand placed in the guilty Christian's file. This is just begging people to search out reasons to be offended.

And what ever happened to simply telling someone that you find a certain remark offensive, rather than reporting it to some officer to file reports of harassment?

Why does the State Department have a chief diversity officer? Is there really anything related to the actual job of the State Department that requires such a position? Of course not. But this is what has happened to bureaucracy these days. It's assumed that every college, government agency, or business needs someone to handle all that diversity. And so what do they do all day but train people to deal with diversity and let people know that they can complain to the diversity office. And if not enough people are complaining, well, just let them know that there are more reasons than they ever dreamed of for complaining. The offended can feel righteous and bureaucrats with job titles like chief diversity officer have work to do to justify their existence.

I'm glad that the State Department has solved all the other problems in the world so that they can focus on encouraging people to find insults in innocent daily interactions.

The fainting couches that Hillary supporters fell onto after Bernie Sanders had the nerve to say to Clinton in a debate when she was interrupting him, "Excuse me, I'm talking." is an example of how absurd the feminist left has become in their search for insults. Rich Lowry writes,
Sanders has an $18 trillion unicorns-dancing-on-rainbows spending program and a paranoiac’s view of Wall Street, but nothing is quite as disqualifying for the feminist left as his alleged “condescension” in this moment and a couple of others.

The debate flap demonstrates how feminism is caught between its dual insistence that women are indistinguishable from men and at the same time due special consideration because they’re uniquely vulnerable to slights, intended or unintended.

No one should have to worry about Hillary Clinton on this score. She isn’t a college sophomore making her first nervous presentation before a public-speaking class. She has been in public life since 1978, and on the national stage since 1991. She was a highly engaged first lady, a senator from New York, secretary of state and, twice, a presidential candidate.

She debated Barack Obama 26 times in 2008. She has weathered more public controversies than any politician in America — with the exception only of Donald Trump — and endured countless congressional hearings. Yet her allies think she can’t bear a couple of sharp words from Bernie Sanders?

During the exchange, Hillary was misleadingly accusing Sanders of opposing the auto bailout. She used Jesuitical wording to make it sound as though his vote against the TARP Wall Street bailout meant he didn’t want to extend federal aid to Detroit. It was when Sanders replied to this attack that Clinton tried to break in, and Sanders issued forth with his “excuse me.”
But in the minds of her feminist supporters, a woman can interrupt a man, but he can't say anything back. How is that respecting the equality of women if they get special status when it comes to the right to interrupt? But so it goes. If they were in the State Department, some woman could fill a grievance with the Chief Diversity Officer for such a microaggression. And Lowry rightly warns about how such attitudes will play out in the general election.
A general election won’t have the same hot-house left-wing atmosphere of the Democratic primary, but Hillary’s potential GOP rivals should take note. Taking on Clinton will require some finesse because most people feel, simply as a matter of good manners, that women should be afforded more courtesy. We may have jettisoned almost every standard of personal conduct, but this ember of gentlemanly expectation still lives on.

Bludgeoning Hillary into submission, the Trump method of debate, won’t work. Ted Cruz, whose lawyerly arguments easily slip into genuine condescension, would have to calibrate accordingly. If a socialist grandfather can be made out to be Archie Bunker, imagine what awaits a Republican.

So the Democrats finally get asked a question about abortion, but it took a Fox forum to do it. They gave the predictable answers. I found this answer by Hillary Clinton interesting.
'Women have this right to make this highly personal decision with their family in accordance with their faith, with their doctor,' Clinton said. 'It's not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained.'
I wish there had been a follow-up question asking her whether she would also agree that the right to bear arms would not be "much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained." What about freedom of speech? Or freedom of religion? Didn't she go to law school? All our rights are limited and constrained. But, for her, the only one that shouldn't be limited is the right to an abortion. Now we know what is most important to her. The right to an abortion, at any time in a pregnancy, should trump any other right in the Bill of Rights.

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David French excoriates how Donald Trump has insulted the honor of the American military by claiming that they would follow his orders to commit war crimes.
For months, he has promised that he would order the military to commit war crimes, torturing militants and targeting their families for execution. He was just as emphatic in promising that those orders would be followed.

He was wrong. There is no scenario under which the military would ever follow directives so offensive to its honor and so blatantly illegal. No man I served with in Iraq would comply with an order to intentionally kill an innocent woman or child, and no officer with a shred of decency or honor would give such an order. The Pentagon has many flaws, but truly bad soldiers are few and far between, and the military is institutionally hard-wired to resist exactly this kind of corruption. Trump would instantly sever the relationship between America’s armed forces and their commander-in-chief just by asking them to do such things....

Donald Trump promised that American soldiers — at the very least — violate Articles 93, 118, and 128 of the UCMJ. Article 93 prohibits “cruelty and maltreatment,” while Articles 118 and 128 prohibit murder and assault. Moreover, soldiers who actually pull the trigger or who actually beat terrorist detainees aren’t the only ones guilty of a crime. Responsibility runs up and down the chain of command, with each officer or NCO who carried out any aspect of the unlawful order facing legal consequences.

Wholly apart from the law — which, it should be pointed out, mandates the death penalty for the most egregious war crimes — this is a matter of honor. The desire to fight the enemy and protect the innocent is imprinted in the DNA of American service-members from Day One. It’s a matter of basic morality and of human decency intrinsic to the warrior ethos. When I was in Iraq, I knew men who would refuse to fire — even though, under the laws of war, they were free to engage the enemy — if it meant endangering children. Good soldiers have died rather than kill innocents at war.
Trump's defenders will say that he has withdrawn those statements as if one statement issued by his campaign cancels out what he's been saying for months. And, as Ilya Somin points out, that statement was quite Clintonian in its phrasing.
But, on Friday, many media outlets reported that Trump has suddenly reversed his position on these issues.

Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Any sighs of relief over Trump’s supposed reversal are premature. What Trump actually said in a statement issued to the Wall Street Journal on Friday is that he “understand[s] that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws.” That is not the same thing as saying he will refrain from ordering the military to target civilians or torture prisoners. As Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff points out, Trump “has now said he would obey the law, he has yet to specifically disavow torture or killing the families of our enemies.”

Why does the difference matter? Because a President Trump could easily try to use expansive theories of executive power to claim that seemingly illegal orders are actually perfectly legal....

Like Trump on Friday, both the Bush and Obama administrations repeatedly stated that they would obey the law. But both then used brazenly expansive interpretations of executive power to get around it. Given his authoritarian tendencies, it doesn’t seem likely that Trump would be any less eager to press the limits of his authority by relying on specious legal arguments. He has obvious authoritarian tendencies, and a long history of using dubious legal theories to try to silence his critics and get the government to seize the property of others for his benefit. Is there any reason to believe he will suddenly become more fastidious about the law once in the White House? If anything, the temptations of presidential power are likely to have the opposite effect (as was certainly the case with both Bush and Obama).
And it didn't take long to pull back from his Friday renunciation.
Then, on Sunday, Trump moved back to the pro-torture position. After proclaiming on CBS’s Face the Nation that he would ask the military to “stay within the laws,” he added that he wanted to “increase the laws because the laws are not working, obviously.” In other words, he’s against torture and murder unless he can make it legal.

Trump slanders American warriors past and present. It’s as if he sees America’s fighting men and women as a band of suppressed savages, primed to slaughter but held back only by antiquated notions of morality — morality that he calls “political correctness.” While he claims to “love the vets,” he should get to know them, and when he does, he’ll learn that their honor and integrity preclude the savagery he cravenly implores.

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John Kasich is acting weird.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich grew irritable at the end of a town hall in Michigan on Monday.

The governor began behaving oddly in response to a questioner.

"Give me that microphone," Kasich said taking the microphone out of the man's hand and strolling toward a random audience member.

"Thank you, congressman. Stand up," Kasich demanded while grabbing a man's hand.

When the man indicated he was not a congressman, Kasich began to raise his voice.

"Well where's the congressman?" Kasich said. "Who are you?"

The man, Andrew C. Richner, identified himself to the governor as a member of the University of Michigan's board of regents. Richner spoke onstage before Kasich's appearance and was seated in the front row of the audience.

Kasich continued his search for a congressman, but was unable to find one. The governor then appeared to chastise a staffer from the stage before returning the microphone to the original questioner who appeared befuddled.
This sounds typical for Trump.
Donald Trump consulted with his campaign manager during the first commercial break at Thursday night's Republican debate, violating ground rules from Fox News stating that candidates would not be allowed to have contact with their campaigns, rival campaign sources told CNNMoney.

While that exchange was the clearest violation of debate rules to date, the sources said, it followed a pattern: At multiple debates, Trump has consulted with his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski backstage even though it was expressly forbidden by the networks.

Thursday night's debate in Detroit marked a new extreme, however, as Lewandowski went directly onto the stage to meet with Trump during the commercial break. As in previous debates, Fox News had explicitly informed the campaigns that candidates were not allowed to communicate with their campaign staff during commercial breaks, the sources said.

When Lewandowski was asked by Fox News staff to leave the stage, he refused to do so, according to a source at Fox News.
What I find extraordinary about this story is the quiescence of the media. He's violating the rules for their debates and they let him get away with it. Why didn't the Fox moderators say something and bring it up after the break? By keeping silent, they facilitated his rule-breaking. And isn't that part of the story of Trump's rise all along - how the media have made things easy for him. Amusingly, the Trump campaign is claiming that they had a report from the Better Business Bureau to show that Trump University had a good rating from them. However, the Better Business Bureau denies that they sent any such report during the debate to the Trump campaign.
The Independent Journal Review posted a video to Twitter showing Trump handing a piece of paper to debate moderators during the break:

Trump can be heard on the recording saying, "Better Business Bureau just sent it...this just came in."

But the BBB said they were not the source of the fax.

On Friday, the organization said this: "A video released by Independent Journal implies that BBB sent a fax in the middle of last night's Republican debate, which we did not. The BBB Business Review of Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (formerly Trump University) has shown 'No Rating' continually since September 2015. The photo tweeted out after the debate last night did not show the current BBB Business Review or the current rating."

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Jonathan Adler ridicules Donald Trump's claim that he hires the best people. And the health care reform plan he recently released demonstrates that he has the best advisers.
Last week, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump released his health care reform plan, “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again.” Those who actually understand health care policy, across the political spectrum, were not impressed. By that I do not mean they disagreed with his proposals. Rather, I mean that they don’t think it even constitutes a “plan” (or even what passes for a “plan” in the midst of a campaign). For instance, liberal-leaning Adrianna McIntyre tweeted: “Not a single health policy expert was locked in a room to generate this ‘plan.'” Others commented that to suggest it was pulled together by an unpaid campaign intern would be an insult to the capabilities of unpaid interns.

At the other end of the political spectrum, the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon was even less impressed, calling the plan “a series of ignorant, incoherent, and self-contradictory verbal spasms.” As Cannon notes, some of what Trump proposes merely restates existing law, while other reforms either don’t accomplish what Trump claims or contradict his stated positions (a point Avik Roy also makes here). Cannon concludes:
This isn’t a health reform plan. It’s a campaign operative copying and pasting a bunch of stuff from the around the web, without knowing what it means or even realizing that he’s describing current law. It shows Trump is as unserious about reforming health care as ever. He doesn’t have a plan. He has paroxysms.
To be clear, the critique is not of Trump’s specific policies, and whether they are better or worse than the status quo or the various reform plans put forward by other candidates. These are questions upon which reasonable people can and will disagree. Rather, Trump’s proposal suggests he does not really have any policy at all, or at least not one that he (or anyone on his campaign) actually understands. It is as if a campaign advisor decided that Trump had to say something about health care policy, beyond complaining about “lines around states,” but did not care one whit about the coherence of what was said. Indeed, it’s almost as if the plan was written by the same folks that sent cease-and-desist letters to the wrong organization. Top men, indeed.
But he has a set of talking points so that is all that matters.

Heather MacDonald explains
why Trump's character is the real reason he should be disqualified from the presidency.
Unfortunately, however valid Trump’s immigration message and however deserved the thrashing of the GOP establishment, Trump would do far more harm than good as President. The problem is not with his inchoate policy positions but rather with his repellent mean-spiritedness and all-consuming narcissism. Trump would set a model of behavior, especially for boys, that would drag American civility into the gutter. Conservatives should preserve the fragile legacy of civilized culture. Trump would demolish it.

Instead of engaging with his opponents’ ideas, Trump invariably sneers at his rivals’ appearance and launches ad hominem insults. Mocking the alleged size of Marco Rubio’s ears and bragging about one's sexual organ may be uproariously funny to a 7-year-old boy, but such sandbox tactics should be inconceivable for someone who aspires to the office once occupied by George Washington, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln. (That Rubio finally responded in kind simply illustrates Trump’s corrosive effect on public discourse.)

Trump is the consummate bully, delighting in kicking people when they are down. Long after Rick Perry and George Pataki were lifeless political corpses and of no possible threat to his own candidacy, Trump continued to entertain audiences by gratuitously mocking Perry’s eyeglasses and intelligence, belittling Pataki’s political appeal, and gloating about how he had routed both from the race.

Such behavior is not just beneath the dignity of the office, it should be beneath the public’s dignity as well. Yet with Trump as President, children will constantly have before them a model of sadistic grandiosity.

While Trump loves to dish out juvenile insults, he is visibly thin-skinned about receiving them. During the penultimate Republican debate, when Rubio cheerfully tried to match Trump’s locker-room sniping, Trump was hunkered down and beleaguered. Expect such a defensive, cornered stance against any leader, domestic or foreign, who opposes him. That is not strength, it is petulant weakness.

By inflaming his audiences’ meanest cage-match instincts, Trump distracts attention from his vacuum of substantive content. When not focused on his rivals’ looks and intelligence, his rallies consist overwhelmingly of recitals of poll numbers in a bizarre self-referential ritual.

Trump’s establishment critics give him too much credit in treating him as representative of a populist ideology. His attention span is too fleeting to have absorbed any coherent narrative about the world. And the chance that once in office he would try to master the nuances of policy is slim, if for no other reason than that his ego would prevent him from acknowledging his profound ignorance.

Trump’s scant understanding of policy means he will likely be at the mercy of every half-baked big government scheme that sounds like an easy solution to a problem — such as increasing welfare payments to alleviate poverty or pouring more federal money into urban revitalization schemes. He does not even understand the immigration policy papers that have been written for him.

Indeed, Trump’s ego makes it likely that he would lie about any matter of state that puts his presidency in a bad light.
Yes! His character means that no one should have any faith in any policy position he has put forth. It's all slogans and whatever he thinks sounds good at that time, but he can change his mind on a dime if he thinks he should. That should be a major alert for voters because who knows what he would do in office? He is almost 70 years old and he has always put himself first. Where is there any evidence that, at any time in his life, he put someone else first? So why do people think that, at this stage in his life, he would act differently?

Here is a perfect example of how he has conducted his business to always help himself and not shown any concern for anyone else.
Marty Rosenberg has sat across the negotiating table from Donald Trump, and he says it cost his business nearly a half-million dollars when the man who currently reigns as the Republican presidential front-runner didn’t live up to his end of the deal.

The year was 1990, and Mr. Trump’s newly constructed Taj Mahal hotel and casino was hurtling toward bankruptcy, while Mr. Rosenberg’s Atlantic Plate Glass (APG) and scores of other contractors who built the lavish megacasino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, waited for more than $60 million in overdue payments.

“We got to the end of the job, and I think he owed APG about $1.5 million,” Mr. Rosenberg recalled in a recent interview. “I was waiting for my check, and it didn’t come.”
So what was Trump doing while he stiffed Marty Rosenberg and all sorts of other businesses that had done work for Trump?
Back in the summer of 1990, Mr. Trump was hustling to keep the Taj Mahal afloat and juggling roughly $3 billion in debt to banks and junk bond holders.

His empire of casinos, Trump Airline and real estate holdings were not generating cash fast enough to pay debts and support his extravagant lifestyle. He was spending nearly $1 million per week on his homes, yacht, Boeing 727 and other personal expenses, according to news reports.
Sure, why pay the little guy what you contracted to pay him when there are yachts, homes, and planes to pay for?

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Mark A. Hewitt explains how Hillary Clinton has violated the Espionage Act of 1917.
Seventy years ago, senior State Department official Alger Hiss found a way to remove classified information from State Department offices. Hillary Clinton found a way to remove classified information from State Department offices. The essence of espionage is to get classified documents out of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a SCIF, and into the hands of “someone not authorized to receive them.”

Among those charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 were Socialist Party of America candidate, Eugene V. Debs, the communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and most recently, whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden.
That is quite some company for her to join.

This is the reason why Obama never liked the Clintons.
Former President Bill Clinton rapped President Obama's "pretty picture" of economic recovery, claiming in a campaign stop for his wife Monday that millions of Americans have been left behind.

He referred to Obama's State of the Union address and his claims of economic prosperity as a "pretty picture" most haven't experienced.

"Millions and millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives," he said in Raleigh, N.C.
That's gotta really annoy Obama. And it's also true. If the media weren't so focused on the GOP race, they'd be paying more attention to the Big Dog dissing the head of the Democratic Party.

The WSJ explains how the rules for delegates at the GOP convention work. First of all, the rules allow that only a candidate who has won a majority of the delegates shall win the nomination. A plurality doesn't cut it. There is no moral right to the nomination for winning a plurality. So if no candidate comes in to the convention without a majority, then the voting will go to the next ballot and the next until someone gets a majority.
Under the GOP rules, about 1,700 delegates out of 2,472 (69%) are bound in the first ballot to vote for the candidate for whom they are pledged—usually by a primary or caucus result. The 31% who are unbound come from states that don’t hold binding presidential preference contests, or from states that allow some of their delegates to remain uncommitted.

If the first ballot doesn’t produce a majority, nearly 80% of the delegates then become free to vote for the nominee of their choice on the second ballot. By the third ballot, 89.4% are free to choose. This gradual liberation is designed to prevent a stalemate and let the delegates work their will to coalesce eventually around the best nominee. This isn’t cheating or “stealing the nomination.” It’s how the process is supposed to work.

Ah, but aren’t the delegates part of the “establishment”? If by establishment you mean stalwart party members in the provinces, then yes. They are often the rank-and-file GOPers who run state and local party operations. But others are activists chosen to become delegates by the various candidates.

It’s true that three delegates from each state are Republican National Committee members. But the rules this year require nearly all of those RNC members to vote in the first ballot for the candidate who won the most at-large votes in a state primary or caucus. So those RNC members, a small minority of delegates, are expressing the will of the voters in the first go-round.
This used to happen with much regularity at conventions. Lincoln won the nomination on the third ballot in 1860 even though William Seward lead on both the first and second ballots. That is what happened up until relatively recently in our political history. If delegates didn't think one guy could win the election, they would coalesce around someone they thought could. That is the purpose of parties - to put forth the best candidates. In the days of primaries, parties have lost that power and the people get to pick. But if the people haven't coalesced around one candidate, the convention is where the party makes its choice. The WSJ concludes,
If the businessman can’t rally a majority at the convention, then he can’t unite the GOP enough to beat Hillary Clinton.

Many primaries have yet to be held, and the odds are that the voters will give one candidate a clear majority before Cleveland. But if they don’t, the voters themselves will have set the stage for the convention fight. The event could a great education in party democracy, and it certainly would do better in the ratings than the usual four-day infomercial.